Blogging

Write Every Day. Unless You Can’t.

This Sunday’s Blogchat on Twitter focused on the subject of how many posts one should shoot for to build and maintain an audience.

I try for a post a day, but I usually don’t make that. I don’t sweat it, anymore. If I don’t feel like I have anything to say that’s actually worth your time, I’d prefer to wait a day until I do rather than just posting something I’m not happy with just so I have something to post.

I call it “respecting my audience.”

That’s not to say, of course, that everything I post actually is worth reading; but hey, I try to make an effort!

During the chat, many debated the issue of quantity over quality. This floored me. Some people actually think it’s more important to post on a rigid schedule even if you’re posting inferior work.

On the other hand, a handful might go too far to the other extreme, shooting down any regular schedule of posting and only adding content occasionally when they feel it’s “perfect.”

Reality — and success — is probably found somewhere in the middle. But definitely closer to the quality side than the quantity side.

Years ago, on a writing blog I had over on Blogger, I got into a needlessly prolonged debate with a fellow writer who insisted on insisting that everyone who wanted to be a writer just had to write every day.

No exceptions.

I don’t believe in “no exceptions.” I don’t like “zero tolerance.”

Because I honestly believe there are occasions in which it’s actually okay to take a day off from writing. (Or anything else.) If you really feel like you need to.

To me, we humans are emotional animals. We get happy, sad, proud, stubborn. And sometimes, we get frustrated.

For those of us who write professionally — in one medium or another — frustration can often be a great motivator to churn out good writing.

But frustration can also be the result of attempting to churn out good writing and failing miserably. And trying again. And failing again. And getting more frustrated.

You get the idea.

For some of us who write professionally, and others of us who wish to some day, we have to remind ourselves that writing, like anything else, is work. There aren’t many jobs out there that don’t offer vacation. There are employees who genuinely love what they do yet somehow manage to take an occasional day away from the office.

Writing really isn’t any different.

If you want to write and you feel like you must write every single day, without fail, to be good at writing, then do it. Write every single day. And make yourself feel like the worst ounce of scum at the bottom of a barrel if there is ever a day that you fail to write something.

Good luck with that.

But if you want to write and you want to strive to improve your skills, I’m giving you a little dose of permission here: when you are frustrated and feel like you can’t write another word, get up from the computer. Go pick up a book and read. See how another writer dealt with another story. Or go watch a movie. Or go listen to a symphony. Or go take a nice walk, smell some roses and just enjoy a day.

Call it a “mental health day.” You’re entitled.

The number of new ideas you’ll receive will surprise you.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to set out to make yourself write every day. That’s discipline and that’s a good thing. But even the most fit athletic trainers have a little ice cream once in a while.

It’s okay, now and then, to go have a hot fudge sundae.

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8 Comments

  1. Good words of advice.

    I write in my blog to empty out my brain of the stuff that is knocking around in it and needs to be let out. I find it takes that issue or worry or whatever it is and gives it a place to live outside of my brain. That frees up more space for the newer or more important things that need to be cogitated in there.

    I do enjoy writing, but I really have no intention of becoming a professional writer. However, I have no problem becoming a better writer.

    It seems that lately I am posting a lot more, but I am mostly posting memes and my answers. I don’t know how often my readers really want to read that. But every so often something of more substance, that pertains to me, is posted. And you are right – if I posted every day just to write every day, there would be nothing all that amazing about anything I did. But by writing when there is something meaty to write about, then I do well.

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  2. Because I have a HUGE photo file, I often flip back through pictures until one grabs me.

    Then the details about what was happening start flowing and the posting on my blog usually pleases me.

    Yes, sometimes I inspire myself. .

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  3. I have a hard time posting every day as I don’t want to bore my readers. I’ve not blogged in a while because I just don’t have the time. Strike that. I don’t take the time to do so. I’m sure I’ll get back on that horse when I feel I have something fascinating to discuss or something to rant about.

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  4. You won’t believe if I tell I was just writing this article for a magazine and couldn’t go on. Then checked Livefyre’s Twitter account and got here. Now I can’t go on either but at least I feel relieved and I know I’ll finish the ####### text after a short break.

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  5. Earlier this year I took almost two months off from blogging. No updates, nothing. And I feel okay about it, even if I lost readers.

    The biggest thing I learned from #blogchat, especially since the night out blogs were critiqued, is that anything goes. For every comment during that hour you will find someone to rebut it. You and I both read the transcript advice, made some positive changes and ditched the rest because we just wanted to do our own thing, right? And it works for us. All the stats and studies in the world aren’t going to make me conform to a set of blogging “rules”.

    Good post – I completely agree with you.

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    1. @dashingly You’re absolutely right: someone’s going to disagree no matter what.

      For the “write every day” thing, this argument keeps coming up and people act like they’re shocked if anyone suggests that a writer can ever legitimately take a day off. It’s the most absurd idea I’ve ever heard of. I’m sure those that have a job besides their writing don’t work at it 7 days a week without ever taking a day off, either.

      If you took a little time off but it made you lose some stress and you feel good about it, that’s all that matters…no matter what any other blogger or writer might tell you.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.